Universities like to think of their lecture series as extensions of the education that students get in their classrooms. Unfortunately, they usually are.
The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy found some disturbing trends in lecture and panel discussion topics, mostly displaying “decidedly leftist tilt.” In an article which appeared in the Carolina Journal, Duke Cheston of the Pope Center reports on such topics in North Carolina universities, which he unearthed through a “regular monitoring” of their websites from January to May 2011.
The four main topics of the lecture circuit were sex, oppression, going green (or environmentalism), and innovation. Cheston gives an eye-opening sampling of each of these topics. In his “by-no-means-exhaustive sampling of sex-related events,” some titles were “Sex, Identity, and Intimacy in Pornographic Culture” given at UNC-Chapel Hill and “The Sexual Politics of Meat” at Davidson College. The Davidson website claims that the speaker used “examples from pornography, magazines, television shows, and movies to explore how masculinity and femininity are shaped by a consumer-driven image-based culture.”
Under the topic of oppression, there was no shortage of representation of racial, religious, and gender groups, from Elon’s “Day of Silence & Bar B-Queer” on April 15 to a UNC-Chapel Hill lecture by the “Ground Zero mosque” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on “religious tolerance in and toward Islam.”
Some of the “green” lectures explored “ecological theology,” “bringing feminist perspectives to bear on global environmental policy and analysis,” and “advocating for social and economic justice and urgent action to address the causes of climate change.”
Cheston split the innovation category into two parts: practical and political, the former consisting of speakers with business credential, while the latter contingent consisted of academic panelists who called for an increased government role in innovation. A great example of the innovation category split is that Louis Foreman, CEO of Edison Nation, whose company helps investors bring their products to market, gave a lecture on the importance of innovation at N.C. State, while a panel of scholars in a different event at Duke University discussed obtaining more federal funds to “accelerate energy innovation.”
One lecture which doesn’t fit the pattern laid out above featured National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg at UNC-Chapel Hill. He’s a rough fit for academia’s true priorities: the irrelevant topics of sex, oppression, going green, and innovation by way of government intervention.
Spencer Irvine is a research assistant at Accuracy in Academia.
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